Root cause analysis is a common phrase in industry. You have a problem and you want to get to the core of the issue and determine a proper course of action. You want to resolve the problem once and for all.
There are many popular tools, including ‘5 Why’, but I keep finding businesses that stop short of the real problem. If you have experienced root cause problem solving then you will be familiar with the idea of symptoms. The first levels of discovery yield only symptoms of the real problem. If you keep digging and poking then you eventually have a real discovery. By real I mean a blinding flash of the obvious (obvious now at least!).
When you get stuck in root cause problem solving you need to go away and get some more information. You need to go and ask the questions that will give you the right answers. Don’t be afraid of asking the foolish questions, you will find that they aren’t foolish if you persevere. Get the facts and get the answers.
When you have a good answer it will most likely be practical and simple to implement. The same answer will also solve a myriad of other issues.
If you are using root cause problem solving tools and are frustrated with the results then it might be a sign that you need to keep digging. If you keep trying to cure symptoms you will never get ahead.
Author, Consultant and Chartered Engineer